Japanese Translation of the Mass


I know this is probably something most folks here wouldn’t know of, but let me fill in.

This might sound a bit nitpicky a topic, but I find the Japanese translation of the Mass quite interesting for a number of reasons. The first thing I need to tell folks about it is, it does get the pro multis translation right. :smiley: But other than that, the translation is quite free in a thought-for-thought way - perhaps even more so than the former English version. The responses sometimes are either truncated (for example, the Sursum Corda) or are almost entirely different (the response to “Behold the Lamb of God.”)

I’ll give the latter for now:


Priest: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi. Beati qui ad cenam Agni vocati sunt.
People: Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea.

(English - Current Translation)

Priest: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
People: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.


Priest: 神の子羊の食卓に招かれた物は幸い。 Kami no kohitsuji no shokutaku ni manekareta mono wa saiwai.
(Blessed are those who are called to the (dining) table of the Lamb of God.)
People: 主よ、あなたは神の子キリスト、永遠のいのちの糧、あなたをおいてだれのところへ行きましょう。 Shu yo, anata wa kami-no-ko Kirisuto, eien no inochi no kate, anata wo oite dare no tokoro e ikimashō.
(Lord, you are Christ, the Son of God, the bread of eternal life; if we leave you, to whom shall we go?)

Note that this is not a complaint thread nor am I insinuating that Japanese Masses are invalid or something, mind. I just want to share the translation with people, compare it with, say, what the Latin says and how other languages translate it, and perhaps get some opinions on it.


Interesting. I dont care for the exclusion of ‘who takes away the sins of the world’

Likewise the ‘not worthy you should enter my roof’…its such a cool acknowledgment of the amazing faith which the centurian exemplified.

But I like the quote from Peter!!! That Teaching in John 6 is amazing! And lots of protestants don’t like to acknowledge the connection with the Lord’s supper!!! (I know that sounds crazy, but its true.)

P.S. have you met your bishop?



Patrick, thanks for sharing.

It is always interesting in hearing to hear the fine points of worship in other languages.


I like it. Thanks.


I participate in Spanish mass, here, and some translations actually seem MORE accurate in Spanish than English.

For example, in the “Our Father”, it says…

…no nos dejes caer en tentación…

Translation…“Don’t let us fall into temptation…”

English…".Lead us not into temptation…"


Actually the Latin (Et ne nos inducas in tentationem) is in the subjuntive, so important in prayer, and lost in the English.


I Korean, most sentences do no have a subject if the subject has already been made known earlier. There are no pronouns. You state the person’s name if needed and after that, there is no need to mention the name again sort of like: “Ate fast.” Nice person." In Korean, pronouns are not used. You use the person’s name or title, or nothing at all.

I imagine that Japanese might have some differences that makes the translation a bit different. :slight_smile:


I have lived in Japan for a long time. I do not know the reasons why the Japanese conference of bishops chose that wording, but I think that it might have to do with Japanese culture at large.
In Japan, it is polite to be always disparaging oneself, so a sentence such as: “I am not worthy to enter your house”, would just be commonplace politeness with no real meaning behind it. You do not really think that you are unworthy to do this or that, it is just the polite thing to say and everyone does it. Even if the president of a company went to visit the lowest worker’s house, he would say that. It is usual to offer food to guests saying: “It is a very small and bad-tasting thing, but please be so good as to taste it”, and so on.
So choosing the quote of Peter brings the attention of the faithful to the proper place, and there is no risk of confusion with common politeness.


Perhaps there is some wisdom in Pope John XXIII’s Sapientia Veterum after all. :slight_smile:


Can you sum up?


Will be happy to.

Thus the “knowledge and use of this language,” so intimately bound up with the Church’s life, "is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons."6 These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church’s nature. "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular."7

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.

In addition, the Latin language "can be called truly catholic."10 It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed "a treasure … of incomparable worth."11. It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church’s teaching.12 It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.

same source

BTW Sapientia Veterum translates to “Wisdom of the Ancient World.”




That’s true: there’s really a culture of self-deprecation here.

To some extent, that’s also true of Japanese - even though there are pronouns (a lot of them really), they are often dropped (especially in conversations) when the subject can be inferred from the context.

Look at how Dominus vobiscum - Et cum spiritu tuo is translated:

主は皆さんとともに。 (Shu wa minasan to tomo ni)
または司祭とともに。 (Mata wa shisai to tomo ni)

Granted, the translation is of the loose “And also with you” type, but note here: literally translated, the dialogue would go like “The Lord be with everyone (mina-san)” - “Also with the priest (shisai).” Note that the standard second-person pronoun (anata for the singular, anata-tachi or anata-gata for the plural) isn’t present. Instead, each side refers indirectly to the other without ever using the word “you:” so the nuance would be something like “The Lord be with all [of you]” - “And also with [you,] the priest.” If you were to translate Dominus vobiscum and Et cum spiritu tuo literally word-for-word, you may have something like 主はあなたたちと共に (Shu wa anata-tachi to tomo ni) and 又、あなたの霊と共に (Mata, anata no rei to tomo ni), respectively.


Fascinating, Captain! :thumbsup:


FWIW In Polish

K. Dominus vobiscum. (Pan z wami) (“The Lord is with you.”)
W. Et cum spiritu tuo. (I z duchem twoim) (“And with your spirit.”)

If it were “The Lord be with you” it would be “niech Pan będzie z wami”


In the Filipino Translation of the Mass:

Priest: Sumainyo ang Panginoon. (The Lord be with you.)
People: At sumainyo rin. (It’s translated as And also with you. If you were to translate And with your spirit, it would be At sa iyong espiritu.)


I also mentioned that the dialogue before the Preface (“Lift up your hearts” - “We have lifted them up to the Lord,” etc.) is truncated. Well, here’s how it goes:

Priest: 主は皆さんとともに。 (Shu wa minasan to tomo ni)
Congregation: または司祭とともに。 (Mata wa shisai to tomo ni)
Priest: 心をこめて神を仰ぎ、(Kokoro wo komete kami wo aogi “(Let us) revere God with all our heart…”)
Congregation: 賛美と感謝をささげましょう。 (Sambi to kansha wo sasagemasho “(and) let us offer (Him) praises and thanks.”)

(The verb aogu 仰ぐ literally means “to look up,” as in 空を仰ぐ sora wo aogu “to look up the sky.” By extension it can also mean “to look up,” “to respect” or “to revere” someone - say, a teacher - or “to depend” or “to turn to” someone: for example 教えを仰ぐ oshie wo aoguto ask [someone] for instruction/advice”)

You’ll notice that the call-and-answer format of “Lift up your hearts” - “We have lifted them up to the Lord” and “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” - “It is right and just” is simplified. Here the congregation is finishing the priest’s words by their response. (Those who know Japanese might note the construction of the dialogue: aogu is in the continuative (ren’yōkei) -formi aogi, which would link the sentence to the congregation’s response. Note again that despite my translation above, no pronoun can actually be found in the congregation’s answer: the object of praise and thanksgiving is understood to be the “God” mentioned by the priest.)

For the record, the Japanese does translate in saecula saeculorum (“to the ages of ages” - what in English is “world without end” or “forever and ever”!) near-literally as 世々にいたるまで yoyo ni itaru made, loosely “throughout all the ages.”

(世々, yoyo/seisei/seze - also 代々daidai/yoyo - literally means “worlds,” “generations” or “ages,” with the nuance of ‘generation after generation’ or ‘age upon age’. 世々 was originally also used to refer to the Buddhist concept of the ‘three times’ or the ‘three worlds’ (traikālya/traiyadhvika, 三世 sanze) - the past, the present, and the future (not to be confused with the trailokya/tridhātu or the ‘three realms’ - 三界 san’gai).

The verb itaru (至る、到る or いたる) literally means “to arrive” or “to get to” a given destination or point in time, “to reach” or “to result in” a certain stage or goal, or “to come to” a certain state or “to extend” within a certain parameter. The construction ~にいたるまで …ni itaru made (usually paired with ~から …kara “from…”) can be rendered as “throughout,” “until,” (今に至るまで ima ni itaru madeuntil now” or “down to the present (day)”), or “up (or down) to” (社長から守衛に至るまで shachō kara shuei ni itaru madefrom the president (of the company) down to the doorkeepers;” 頭の先から足の先にに至るまで atama no saki kara ashi no saki ni itaru madefrom head to foot,” or more literally “from the tip of the head down to the tip of the foot”). The meaning basically boils down to ‘everything and anything within a given parameter’.)

For the record, I’m also reminded of how Sursum corda is rendered in the Tagalog translation of the Liturgy: Itaas sa Diyos ang inyong puso at diwa. - *Itinaas na namin sa Panginoon. * “Lift up to God your hearts and thoughts.” - “We have [already] lifted up to the Lord.”

(The Tagalog Diwa I think is particularly a hard word to translate in English: it could mean ‘spirit’ (as in diwa ng Pasko “spirit of Christmas”), someone’s ‘thought’, ‘state of mind’, ‘nature’, ‘soul’, ‘thread of thought’, ‘consciousness’ or ‘psyche’. The adjective walang diwa, literally ‘having no diwa’, means ‘senseless’, ‘meaningless’ (as in tugmang walang diwa ‘senseless/stupid rhymes’) or even ‘lifeless’ or ‘unconscious’.)


This is continues with:

Priest: Pasalamatan natin ang ating Diyos. (Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.)
People: Marapat na siya ay pasalamatan (It is right to give him thanks.)


Note the alternation between Diyos, Panginoon, and Panginoong ating Diyos? :wink:

It only struck me recently, but I noticed that although the translation of Dominus Deus Sabaoth in the Sanctus is AFAIK Panginoong Diyos ng mga hukbo, (“Lord God of hosts”) composers seem to prefer Panginoong Diyos na makapangyarihan (“Lord God almighty”). In my whole life, I’ve yet to hear a Mass which used Panginoong Diyos ng mga hukbo. :stuck_out_tongue:


I’ve just noticed this! lol!
I’ve also noticed that the Confiteor in Tagalog doesn’t have the* ‘Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa’*

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